There is an old saying that, ‘the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the second best time is now’. The same could be said for getting involved with social media. I recently held a workshop where 20% of the delegates attended in response to an announcement via Twitter. The advertising cost to me for that 20% was zero. Because of Twitter I had built a relationship with them before we had even met. Most coaches are by nature people-focused; many are natural networkers, but many find it harder to use new media resources in a conscious way to build their business.

I, too, was slow in getting to grips with social media. I have been active for only around two years. To begin with, I shared many of the concerns that I know other coaches have. But I can assure you that being active via social media and building relationships online can be a rewarding experience for both you and your business. One of my aims is to encourage coaches to make more use of social media, not only to keep in touch with other coaching professionals but also to start building relationships with prospective clients ; connecting to people by engaging to online groups and discussions about your profession. I recently sent a survey out to several hundred coaches.

I was keen to find out how are coaches use social media and get an understanding of their attitudes towards what could be the most important communication tool of the century. Here is a sample of the questions I asked coaches through our online survey. I think you will find the results interesting.

How would you rate your level of ability with social media?

71.6% of the coaches who replied to the questionnaire said that they were now using social media – but only 5.5% of them classified themselves as highly proficient at using it; and 8.5% said that they were not currently using social media for business purposes. That means that most coaches have a long way to go before becoming proficient enough to benefit from the full potential of social media.

How did you get involved with social media?

The vast majority of coaches who use social media are self-taught. Only 20% of those who replied had learnt their skills by investing in a course: almost the same number who had been helped by friends and family. But sharing and chatting on Facebook and Twitter are not the same as having a business presence. It is good to learn from people who are successfully using social media in business, as well.

What are the main channels of social media you are currently using for business?

By far the majority of respondents (76.4%) said that Linkedin was the channel they used most often for networking business to business. This was unsurprising as it is a great way to get yourself noticed by other business professionals – but is it doing the job you need when it comes to attracting the attention of personal clients, who may not have any need to be a part of the Linkedin network?

Remember to make sure your social media strategy is linked to your coaching niche. Businesses get noticed when they are able to reach clients and potential clients at the point where they are looking themselves. This can be achieved more readily via Twitter and Facebook than any other means. Only 16% of respondents are currently using Youtube to promote their skills. This is understandable, as posting video content can seem daunting. It is better to have no video than a bad one.

However, if well done, a video not only gains respect, it also allows potential new clients to ‘get to know you’ before picking up the phone. Websites that incorporate video content hold browsers’ attention for longer than those that do not.

If you are using Twitter, how many followers do you have?

42% of respondents who responded have fewer than 100 followers. Only 6% have more than 500 followers. If you depend on new prospects to build your business, Twitter is a great way to gain attention. What kind of content are you posting? Is it inspiring? Does it entertain? Does it encourage people to ‘follow’ you to learn more?

Twitter is now taken very seriously as a marketing tool. Corporate businesses no longer leave tweeting to chance; they build it into their marketing plans and ‘tweeting’ may be part of someone’s job description or a full time role.

I can recommend a great book by Penny Power titledKnow Me, Like Me, Follow Me it can help you understand how the landscape is being shaped by collaboration, reputation and relationships.

What do you mainly use social media for?

The vast majority of coaches use social media solely for networking purposes and to share knowledge and information. Less than 3% are actively using it for customer feedback and analysis. This is a missed opportunity. Monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of your communication strategy is essential.

Unless you know what has worked, how can you make changes that will deliver even better results? Once you’ve got a good number of connections (500 to 1,000 is a good target to aim for) you can tweet surveys to find out what your contacts and followers are interested in, and deliver more of what they want. Social media isn’t about selling, it’s about building relationships and adding value.

How long have you been using social media for business?

The reply suggests that only 5% were using social media three years ago; whereas 30% used some form of social media for business in the last year. In my businesse4s the philosophy is simple… do not be a social media dinosaur.

Social media, like coaching, is about building constructive relationships. Around a billion people around the globe are now using social media; I think the figures describe the benefits for themselves.



b2b Bev James Coaching Business communication strategy Do It or Ditch It full potential LinkedIn main channels Social Media social media usage with coaches Social Network start-up loans survey results twitter for coaches


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